Assembly Okay’s Transfer of Rumrunner’s Liquor License

Patrick Flynn

The Anchorage Assembly, last night (Tuesday 12/18), approved a resolution allowing sale of the liquor license belonging to Rumrunner’s Old Towne Bar & Grill, which closed Sunday, to an Anchorage restaurateur.

The Assembly was considering a resolution that would have set a hearing to protest the renewal or transfer of Rumrunner’s liquor license. But attorney Dan Coffey convinced them that that a deal between his client, Restaurateur Bruce Burnett, and the owner of Rumrunners, Basilio Gallo, hinged on the approval of an Assembly resolution allowing sale of the liquor license. Coffey painted a worst case-scenario for downtown without the resolution.

“You’re gonna have an empty building. I’ve talked to three realtors. The shortest period of time they said it would be empty is a year. The longest was two years. I don’t think we want that downtown. We’re asking for your assurances in the form of a resolution before we can do these things before we start spending a lot of money,” Coffey said.

Coffee brought letters of support from the Downtown Community Council, The Anchorage Downtown Parnership and several busienses. Rumrunners closed its doors Sunday after a string of allegations of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) board violations including an attempt to operate a second bar on the premises without a license, repeated and significant calls for police assistance and reports and allegations of security personnel using excessive force. Patrick Flynn, who represents downtown, objected to the resolution, saying it sent the wrong message.

“We cannot, as a community, allow operators to behave as Rumrunners has for years and then not hold then to account. Well Mr. Coffey will offer, well they’re going out of business. Well yeah, they’re getting paid to go out of business,” Flynn said.

After debate, Assembly members amended the resolution to allow sale of the liquor license to Burnett. He has agreed to pay $300,000 for it, along with furniture, fixtures and equipment. The contract also includes the option to purchase the building for $2.5 million. The resolution passed 8 to 3 with Assembly members Patrick Flynn, Harriet Drummond and Elvi Gray-Jackson the ‘no’ votes. Burnett owns the city’s only TGI Friday’s restaurant. He says he hopes to have a casual dining restaurant up and running by summer. The ABC Board still has to approve the liquor license transfer.

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